Things come and go
Why are we sad when someone we love passes away or when beloved items are lost?Because we love them. Because we are attached to them. Because we can't live without them. Because the world won't be the same without them.
When we are grieving, all of the above are the right answers to explain our feelings. It is stressful when we hold on to the belief that things will be the same forever, only to find out that they will not. The pyramids in Egypt were built to last. They still stand four millennia later, but without maintenance, they could fall apart soon.
In 1997, while tens of thousands of white-collar workers lost their jobs because of the "Tom Yum Kung Crisis", many other Thais suffered financially. Years have passed and some still grieve that our economic prosperity was taken away so soon. During the years of grieving, we were also saddened by the fact that many other countries "not on the world economic map before" emerged as more promising prospects, particularly Russia and China.
People in Brazil are now fretting that such promises and status will slip away, following slower growth last year.
Once a key economic pillar in the world, the European Union is now mired in crisis. Recession is prominent this year, and despite positive growth forecasts for 2014, uncertainties still linger.
On the contrary, Japan appears to be turning its back on a "lost decade". Its 0.2 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 brought happiness to the new government and the Japanese people, as it suggests the end of years of recession.
And looking at developments in the US, all are still wondering what will happen to the world's biggest economy. After the "Hamburger Crisis" in 2008, the country is now facing "sequestration" - a cut in public spending. Many government employees are expected to see reduced working hours or be put on leave. Just last week, the immigration department warned that visitors to the US would certainly face longer waiting queues due to staff constraints.
Some economic indicators in the US are improving, like unemployment. But with slow growth, it makes China's prediction that it will overtake the US as the world's leading economy by 2019 look more convincing (if China does not stumble on its own success).
Back in Thailand, past glory appears to be returning. The baht, which fell to its lowest level at 56 per US dollar in 1998, is now strengthening sharply. One economist now anticipates that the baht could return to the Bt25 per dollar level within a few years. Then, most complained about fast depreciation. Now, their complaint is about fast appreciation.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand index has hit several new 19-year highs this year. Brokers and investors alike are counting down the days to when the index will repeat its record high of 1,753.73 points registered on January 4, 1994. The mood is totally different from a few years after 1994, when the index bottomed out near 200 points. Then, one of my friends lost all his savings. As he waved a forever goodbye to the stock market, many new faces arrived, all dreaming of fortunes.
They will have to remember that whatever can be gained can also be lost. They may be happy with the bright outlook today, but deep down they must be fretting about when the good times will end and dash their hopes. In this world, they should remember that both manmade and natural incidents can induce changes.
The 9/11 tragedy still reminds us how brutal mankind can be, and of the economic consequences.
Two years ago, the Japanese suffered from triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown disasters. Two years on, reconstruction there is continuing, but some people who lived near the Fukushima nuclear power plant are still unable to return home. But through this tragedy, the Japanese people showed the world how united they are. It also gave an opportunity to people elsewhere in the world to show their support to Japan.
In one lifetime, we have to face a number of changes. We can be sad or happy today, but the mood can easily change tomorrow - depending mainly on ourselves.
As we see in "Les Miserables", the lead character, Jean Valjean, lived a very miserable life, but at the end he was happy that his daughter was in good hands.
In one Thai novel, the lead character lost her husband, but instead of wearing black at the funeral, she wore her best and sexiest dress. She did not cry. Others wondered why this devoted wife was so cold. Only she knew that she did it for her husband. He shouldn't see her devastated, if he was watching from somewhere. Thinking that she couldn't love someone new, she fell in love again two years later. But this man happened to be engaged, forcing her to step aside and get on with her life.
She understands that things come and go. They are mostly beyond our control. The world is evolving, but it is up to us to decide how much that evolution should affect us.